Friday, March 18, 2011

Characteristics 3 and 5 of the Novice Teacher

3. The novice teacher should recognize that teaching is a professional, moral, and ethical enterprise, should understand moral issues and ethical practices in educational environments, and should have developed ethical frameworks which facilitate effective teaching.

This characteristic refers to ethics of the educational setting that is our classroom. As teachers, we must be able to set an example for our students by being able to answer the moral questions that will come up during those 'teachable moments in our classrooms. This characteristic is especially relevant to science teachers and the 'ethics of science' conversations that are bound to come up during such topics as genetic engineering, gene therapy, cloning, etc.

At North Marion in my 10th grade Biology classes, I created a lesson in which students worked in pairs to assess the ethics of a recent genetic engineering article from the magazine Popular Science. I passed out a variety of articles so students would not all be assessing the same ethical issues. For example, one pair was given an article on genetically engineered cows that have been genetically engineered in a way that makes the cows not feel any pain. Students were given an ethics worksheet to assess how this genetic engineering relates to humans, how (if at all) it benefits humans, and if it is ethical to genetically engineer an organism just because it benefits humans.

They had to discuss their answers with their partner and then we had a group discussion on each of the various articles. I used this lesson to teach students not only about the ethics of genetic engineering, but also to teach students to think critically about the ethics of science as a whole, the responsibility involved in having and using these scientific technologies, and the responsibility involved in government regulation of funding for various types of scientific research. This lesson represents characteristic 3, because I led a discussion on a touchy subject to lead students into creating their own understanding of what it means to be ethical. I played devil's advocate to show students that these ethical issues have many different perspectives that must be addressed to truly assess the underlying 'right or wrong' of each genetic engineering scenario (if a 'right or wrong' can even be assigned).

5. We believe that the novice teacher should have in-depth knowledge of pedagogy.

This characteristic explains the importance of knowing how to teach through a strong understanding of learning theories,instructional strategies, and the learning process. I believe this characteristic most strongly demonstrates the importance of knowing your students and best meeting their educational needs.

During my teaching experiences at North Marion High School, I've had the opportunity to give out a learning survey in which students explained how they believe that they learn best and why they believe this. The majority of my students replied that they learn best in group or pair work and through working on projects. From this feedback, I created a lesson on genetic engineering in which students had to genetically engineer their own organisms in some way and answer a set of questions that relates to the ethics of science and the overall ideas in genetics that they had been recently learning. Students were given the opportunity to work in pairs or on their own. Students were also allowed to present their project in a way that best matches their learning styles. Students could create a powerpoint, documentary, song, rap,poster,skit, etc. The list I created for them had about 20 different ways to present their project. I feel that this lesson relates to characteristic 5, because I am appealing to student's learning styles and also using student feedback to generate a lesson that allows students the freedom to learn in a way that best works for them.